Injury Update

Injury Update

12th May 2017

Head Coach, Denis Betts, comments on the Vikings current injury challenges.

In general, I am always a little conservative about releasing injury news in the public domain. I would like to stress that although at times it may be frustrating to our Members to not have a full understanding of the situation, this is to ensure that opposing Clubs do not gain any advantage in their preparations for an upcoming fixture against us. 

 It is very rare that a professional Rugby League player is ever 100% fit, but there is a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. Players throughout Super League will enter the field of play carrying some kind of knock, this is simply the nature of a contact sport such as ours. However to highlight injury in advance of a fixture gives opposing players an opportunity to target a potential weakness in our players. 

 Likewise, to state prior to the announcement of a 19 man squad that a player will be unavailable gives the opposing coaching team more time to adjust their strategy as to the team that they perceive will take to the field for the Vikings. 

 However, following the announcement of our 19 man squad today, where some first team regulars are absent and we are calling on more of our young talent, I want to speak directly to our Members to share with them the selection challenges we face at the moment and ask for their support. 

 This season has been like no other that I have ever known, both in my playing or coaching career. We have been hit with an unprecedented amount of injuries throughout our 2017 campaign. Although this opens the door to youngsters to develop within our first team set-up, we have lacked the Super League experience and guidance from a number of key personal throughout the first 13 rounds of the competition. 

 It is a frustrating time for the coaching team and the Club especially as we have come so close in a number of games and fell short of completing the performances with two points in the bag. 

Last weekend’s fixture against Hull FC was no different. We started with bags of energy and enthusiasm. Our defence in the first half was extremely strong and Hull found this difficult to break down. We had Tom Gilmore and Joe Mellor on the field together for only the third time this year, we also had a starting hooker in Aaron Heramaia and Rhys Hanbury at fullback, and they looked exciting as they orchestrated our attacking plays. 

The second half appeared to be a capitulation from the team, and the intensity and desire that was witnessed in the first half may have seemed to be amiss, but behind the scenes we faced many challenges. We lost Chris Bridge to concussion in the first minute of the game after an uncomfortable landing whilst being tackled in the first Vikings attack. This left us with three substitutions for the remaining 79 minutes. Tom Gilmore suffered a hamstring strain in the second half, Chris Dean was uncomfortable with shoulder pain which has now been diagnosed as a ruptured shoulder muscle, Matt Whitley suffered a knee injury, whilst Stefan Marsh has suffered a hip muscle strain. 

It is a credit to all of these players that they put their bodies on the line to try to grind out a much needed victory against Hull, who are a quality team. Obviously the amount of injuries meant that we were not as strong, not as dominant and ultimately we were left exposed in certain areas, which Hull capitalised on. 

None of these players will be available for selection for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fixture against Warrington Wolves. These casualties will see our injured players list rise to 12 with Tom Armstrong, Oliver Ashall, Chris Bridge, Danny Craven, Chris Dean, Tom Gilmore, Macgraff Leuluai, Stefan Marsh, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White and Matt Whitley all on the treatment table. 

This is virtually a full team in itself that is unavailable for selection and will mean that our resources will be further tested in the coming weeks. 

As I have stated previously, I have never experienced a situation such as this, but ultimately we must remain focused in the face of adversity. I know that our players will continue to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team and I have every faith that the younger players who are called upon will give their all to impress. 

I cannot stress the influence that our Members can have on the performance of the team. Your support is not only influential – but is vital to the players’ performance. We are incredibly lucky to have such a passionate fanbase who are always extremely vocal both home and away. There may be a few new faces that come in to the first team over the coming weeks, all of whom share the dream of representing Widnes Vikings and running out week in week out in front of our black and white army. I know that you will play your part in giving them the encouragement and support to allow them to flourish. 

I would like to thank our Members and Supporters for your patience and continued support. We are all frustrated at the current situation but will continue to maintain our positivity and instil a belief that we can compete with anybody in the competition. This is where our One Club mantra is of the utmost importance and will be truly tested. 

Injury Update